We may hate to admit it, but winter is just around the corner.
If it has to be winter let’s hope for lot’s of snow and great ski and snowboard conditions! Right now is the perfect time to think about specific fitness for winter activities.
If you hit the slopes frequently you can appreciate that both snowboarding and skiing generally mean short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of leisurely carving for recovery to complete rest riding the chair lift.
The significance of this is that we are utilizing multiple energy systems and the exercise you complete today can have a dramatic impact on your body’s efficient transition on the slopes. For instance in those intense segments of moguls or fast runs down the steeps your body will be required to produce immediate energy for fast strong movements to maintain precision and control.
This energy comes from our ATP-CP system in that split second moment and quickly transitions to our fast glycolytic system. What this means is you have about 10 seconds for a maximum strength outburst and then approximately two minutes or so until the burning feeling of fatigue begins to set in. During this time our body is using massive amounts of our stored carbohydrates or glucose. Once we are forced to slow or experience a portion of our run allowing us recover our body transitions to our oxidative system using fats and still more carbohydrates to produce massive amounts of energy. Finally our body gets a chance to clear some of the waste products created by this process and supply more oxygen and glucose. Once we hit the chairlift respiration slows and our fuel tanks are topped up for the next run. Every single run is like the equivalent of revving your car up to max RPMS, popping the clutch and screaming off the line when the light turns green, only to realize the next light is red and letting off the gas to coast up to the next light.
Train the same way you ride. You can dramatically increase your ski/snowboard experience with a little adaptation to your training, we just need to try to mimic the same series of events. Every workout must begin with a proper warm-up of about five to 10 minutes of slowly elevating heart rate and body temperature with no-impact exercise.
Once you are adequately warm plan out your sets to mimic the transition of energy systems. Quick explosive bursts are best equated to heavy lifting in compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, or lunge squats. Heavy will be relative to your ability but I would suggest no more than five to six repetitions for this portion or what you can explosively complete within 10 seconds of hard effort. Immediately I would select two to four body weight exercises such as push ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats or full sit ups and complete as many as you can for two minutes continuous. (Change exercises each time you reach failure.) At the end of this extended set I would allow four to eight minutes of recovery performing light cardio, no more than about 55 per cent maximum heart rate (Max HR=22-age), primarily to focus on very mild cardio improvements and all important recovery ability.
Overall every 10 minute segment will be similar to completing one run on the mountain. A total of four to a maximum of five circuits performed this way will be sufficient for developing a great base of fitness for the coming season.
Your nutrition will also be an important component of how enjoyable your days in the mountains are. The usual rules apply of small frequent meals each containing protein, a small amount of starch and plenty of fibrous vegetables. If you are a regular whey protein user I would recommend reduce the amount of whey you consume during ski/snowboard season as it may hinder performance slightly and increase the symptoms of fatigue during the hard runs. But most importantly be wary of your hydration. Our days on the mountain often prohibit us from drinking as much as we normally would (not to mention the occasional alcoholic beverage), it’s really important to make sure your water intake in the days prior to your trip is as high as possible, this will not only stave off fatigue but even keep you warmer as it is an important component of managing our body temperature and circulation. While on the hill portable foods such as almonds, walnuts and high fibre carbohydrates will provide a consistent supply of energy to keep you warm and maintain your best performance. (I prefer the Hammer Nutrition organic energy bars.)
Cabel McElderry is a local personal trainer and nutrition coach. For more information on fitness and nutrition, visit the Fitness F/X website at www.oneto1fitness.com.